Regional Conservation Forum Helsinki
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IUCN Regional Conservation Forum calls for stronger biodiversity action and nature based solutions in Europe

Helsinki, 14 December 2015. The IUCN Regional Conservation Forum 2015 started today with a high-level opening session, sending a strong signal for nature conservation in Europe and North and Central Asia. The Forum is organized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature - IUCN, the leading global voice on nature conservation. From 14-16 December in Helsinki, more than 250 participants from 42 countries in Europe, North and Central Asia will come together to forge solutions to the region’s pressing environmental challenges.

As a tangible outcome of the Forum, the ‘Helsinki Message’ will be adopted by IUCN Members and experts on the closing day of the conference, expressing the priorities of IUCN in the region on nature conservation, governance and nature-based solutions.

“Europe is at a crossroads, and this timely event will give the regional environment community an opportunity to reflect on the Paris Climate Agreement, and identify concrete steps to implement the global Sustainable Development Goals,” said Marina von Weissenberg, IUCN Vice President and Councilor for Western Europe. “We are grateful to Finland for hosting this meeting, and look forward to the adoption of the ‘Helsinki Message’ to reiterate the unwavering commitment of the European conservation community.”

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President Tarja Halonen, Finland

Message from President Tarja Halonen


Dear members and partners of IUCN,

The conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of natural resources are fundamental to human life and well-being. Healthy ecosystems provide food, water and energy as well as employment, livelihoods and security. Ecosystem services are the prerequisite for economic, social and ecological sustainability. Yet the pace of biodiversity loss is increasing, bringing drastic changes to our way of life and weakening our efforts to combat hunger, thirst and inequality. 

Today, many global conflicts are about the control of natural resources, making conservation a key pillar of stable and peaceful societies. Severe food and water scarcity can lead to environmentally forced migration and increase conflicts and violence.  We have the tools and methods to manage our ecosystems in sustainable ways, but what we no longer have is time to delay the action. Civil society actors and international environmental organizations like IUCN have a vital role to play in promoting sustainable practices such as nature based solutions, which help to mitigate the effects of climate change and adapting to its adverse impacts.

I am very glad that I have been able to be a part of a long term collaboration with IUCN in promoting the role of women and gender equality in environmental issues. The empowerment of women provides sustainable solutions in the management of the environment. Women must be included in the development and implementation of natural resources planning and decision making.

I am pleased to be the patron of this important event, and I wish you fruitful discussions on priorities and collaboration of the Pan-European conservation community. These discussions are very timely since this year the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will hopefully agree on a new global climate agreement.

I wish all participants of the Forum a most warm welcome to Finland, as I hope that you learn more about Finland and enjoy all that our country has to offer!

Above all, I hope that your meeting is productive and successful.

Tarja Halonen

Former President of Finland

Patron of the Regional Conservation Forum